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Social Selling: How Being Social Affects Your Prospects

Jeff Cochran

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Think that social media isn’t for B2B companies like yours? Think again. IBM did it. In fact, IBM reports “one-third of its B2B buyers were already using social media of various kinds.”

Sure, the 54-year-old executive that you negotiate with might not be using Twitter, but the 37-year-old one level below him (who has significant influencing power) is on Twitter… Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+, too.

The Lesson? Start Getting Social

It’s time to start getting social.

Here’s what that doesn’t mean: creating a Facebook, Twitter, and other social media profiles just for the sake of having them.

When we say, “get social,” we want to encourage you to learn more about the power of social media in terms of sales. According to a 2012 study by the Aberdeen Group, 56% of sales representatives that used sales intelligence were able to meet or surpass their quotas. Compare that to the mere 26% of sales reps who did the same, but without using sales intelligence.

The sales people using intelligence aren’t necessarily working harder; they’re working smarter.

Of course, we don’t want to confuse “sales intelligence” with “social media” because they’re certainly not one and the same. However, as social media platforms continue to grow, the wealth of information available on these networks is becoming a bigger piece of the “sales intelligence” pie.

Here’s one last impressive fact before we cover how you can get started with social selling: According to another commentary on the Aberdeen Group study, sales reps that use social selling “are 79% more likely to attain their quota than ones who don’t.”

How Your Sales Team Can Be More Social

Here are a few ideas for encouraging social selling that are – at the very least – worth experimenting with:

  • Ask employees to perform “social research” on the buyers and decision-makers they’re targeting.
  • Offer interested employees the chance to spend the first 15-20 minutes of their day building their own professional social network and reaching out to prospective clients through social media channels.
  • Encourage company leaders and employees at all levels to contribute to a company blog. This is a great way to demonstrate thought leadership and have something to share with your online professional community.

Is your sales team using any “social selling” techniques?

Is Your Sales Team Too Soft to Close the Deal?

Jeff Cochran

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We’ve seen it time and time again: a sales team that’s overly careful not to be seen as “sharks” fails to close the deal. The excuses go on and on, but usually sound something like this:

  •  “We didn’t want to pressure the client.”
  • “We thought we would leave the ball in their court for a week.”
  • “They said they needed time to think about it.”
  • “The client loves their current provider.”

At the end of the day, it boils down to the fact that a sale has been lost. If your team is losing sales, then it might be time to step in with some negotiation tactics. Here are some strong approaches you can employ to get your sales team closing deals again.

4 Assertive Sales-Closing Techniques

1. Geoffrey James of MoneyWatch wrote an interesting piece for CBS News a couple years ago, titled How to Close a Sale in 6 Easy Steps. The title leads you to believe it’s too good to be true (it is). The steps to closing a sale are never easy. However, James does start off with a strong first piece of advice: “Ignore the ABC Strategy.” You probably know this strategy: Always Be Closing. The fact is, the sales game doesn’t work that way, but your salespeople may not know it yet. Let them know that they don’t have to Always Be Closing. Instead, encourage them to focus on developing relationships and setting your company apart from the competition. It’s all in the little details… which later lead to assertive sales-closing!

2. Ray Silverstein, writing for Entrepreneur.com, hits the nail on the head when it comes to picking up on details. Silverstein suggests that when you go into a sales call, you think about what the person you’re pitching to wants. This may sound like standard sales advice, but it’s not. Focus on unique emotional wants, advises Silverstein. He draws upon the example of an entrepreneur, whom he believes doesn’t want to make big profits. Rather, “Entrepreneurs are in business for themselves because they want to call the shots. Their true wants including being the boss, ensuring the company’s security and perhaps passing the company along to a successor.” Have your sales team think about how they will meet these unique emotional wants.

3. At least 8 of the 12 Commandments for Closing a Sale by Grant Cardone involve body language and communication. If your sales team isn’t practiced in clear communication and effective body language, then a little bit of sales training can go a long way in affecting your bottom line. Eye contact and a smile is just the beginning.

4. Lastly, how well does your sales team know your product? Jay Delahousay, writing for the Small Business Chronicle, believes that sales teams who are comfortable with their product can be much more assertive and effective in closing sales. He also makes a great closing point: being assertive is different from being aggressive.

Where do you see ‘assertive’ sales crossing over into ‘aggressive’ sales territory?

 

Small Companies are Increasing Their Budgets for Training

Jeff Cochran

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In our last blog post, we shared some information from the latest Training Magazine, which reported that 65% of organizations had decreased their budget or experienced no budget change in 2012 from the year before. Of course, the converse of that fact is that 35% of organizations increased their training budgets in 2012. Let’s take a look at how small companies (100-999 employees) increased their training budgets this year.

According to the Training Magazine report, small companies grew their training budgets in the following ways:

  • Growth of more than 25%: 17%
  • Growth of 16% to 25%: 13%
  • Growth of 6% to 15%: 37%
  • Growth of 1% to 5%: 33%

The majority of training budget growth in 2012 was small, but even a 6% to 17% growth is significant in the world of training. A survey of all size businesses reveals that the vast majority of budgetary growth was in:

  • Increasing Scope of Training (56%)
  • Increasing Numbers of Learners Served (52%)
  • Adding Training Staff (49%)

 Below, you’ll find some effective ways that your small company can grow in 2013…

Increase the scope of your training to get ahead of your competitors in 2013. Training may be stagnant for some industries in 2013. So, while your competitors are cutting corners, know that now is the time for you to push your employees ahead. Look into online training options if your company doesn’t have the time or resources for weekend seminars or month-long courses.

Increase the number of learners served by bringing in a professional training group to deliver a series of brown bag lunch seminars. In order to maximize the effectiveness of these seminars, require employees to get into breakout groups to discuss the topic in terms of their own roles in the company.

Lastly, increase your training budget in 2013. Reduced training budgets may save money in 2013, but will hurt companies in the long run. Without training, employees fall behind in their skill sets, which results in overall depreciation of a company.

How will you train your employees in 2013? Are you increasing your budget or decreasing it?

How to Get Your Sales Team to Buy Into Your CRM System

Jeff Cochran

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How to Get Your Sales Team to Buy Into Your CRM System

Do you have a great new CRM system? Does it provide answers to all – or most – of the challenges that your sales team is currently working through?

Then why aren’t they using it?

Selling your sales team on a new system might be one of the hardest sales you have to make. Sales teams can be stubborn in their ways and slow to accepting change. But, chances are, your problem isn’t really with the sales team. The problem is with how you’re selling them.

More Than the Sales Team

Sure, a CRM system is most likely to be used by a sales team. If you work in a small company, then you know perfectly well that the sales team doesn’t account for the only users of CRM software. Upper management and the marketing department are just two of the groups that might dabble in the CRM system from time to time.

Focus on selling to the senior management of your company before selling to the sales team. When senior management is doing it, your sales team is going to be more likely to want to do it, too. (Also, give special attention to the new hires at your target company. New hires are less set in their ways, and more open to change.)

Present a Need & Drive Pain Points

In B2B sales, pain points are everything. It turns out that pain points go a long way in getting your employees to buy-in, too. If you’re struggling to sell your CRM system, it might be because you aren’t demonstrating the need to your sales team very well.

Present the sales team with real problems in the company, and ask how they’re currently addressing those issues. Then, tell them how the new CRM system would help them more effectively address those issues.

For example:

“How do you remember the lead channels through which your major, long-time accounts were secured?”

“We’ve integrated our lead tracking software with the new CRM system so that our clients’ lead information is automatically attached to their profiles in the CRM system. No more forgetfulness!”

Offer a Solution

The bottom line is this: your CRM system should offer a solution to specific problems that are currently not addressed. Even if the sales team you’re pitching to is change-resistant, you will have a breakthrough when you offer a truly innovative solution.

When you offer solutions, get specific. If you know that your sales team has a propensity for losing valuable information, demonstrate how your CRM system can capture and retain that information. Show how effortless and easy it is. Then, attach dollar figures to what your solution means for each salesperson in gained commissions.

Sales Training in 2012: 7 Performance Improvement Trends

Jeff Cochran

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From cutting deals in the boardroom to learning to recognize your own flaws, we want to help you and your sales team be as effective as possible. To increase your effectiveness, you have to carefully cultivate the habits of your sales team at a fundamental level.

2012 has brought about a shift in sales training trends that places a larger focus on “small-level” performance improvement. Check out seven tips to boost in-office performance that can help you can shave off countless hours of wasted time across the board…

1. Give your sales team “process maps.” Your company may have hundreds of processes that happen on a routine basis, from submitting pay sheets to sending out memos. Chances are, some of your employees will spend three minutes on submitting a pay sheet while others spend 20 minutes on the task. Determine the most efficient method for these types of processes to be completed, and give employees recommended guidelines for how much time they should spend on the task.

2. Create benchmarks. Watch your big picture goals become much more manageable when you break them down into small goals for your team. If you want your 20-person sales team to generate 400 leads over the next month, then break it down. That’s 20 leads per person, which is one lead per day over the course of four weeks. Check in to see how your team is meeting your benchmarks.

3. Create your personal schedule at the beginning of every day. Obviously, you have to work around meetings and other commitments. But, you should schedule each half-hour segment of your day with particular tasks. This will keep you on-track and focused. Encourage your sales team to do the same.

4. Block out a morning for “spring cleaning” once per quarter. When you get rid of office clutter, unnecessary papers, and other visual distractions, you will see a big performance improvement. Provide your team with recycling bins and waste receptacles. If you give each employee his/her own waste receptacle, then it’s more likely that your initiative will be acted upon.

5. Reward highly efficient salespeople. When your team realizes that you’re serious about rewarding, they’re more likely to act on your performance improvement initiatives.

6.Get your Internet under control. Efficiency experts like Tim Ferriss have been pushing for this for years. If possible, only access email two to three times a day. Avoid social networking sites during office hours. Use a RSS feed for your blogs. It’s all easier said than done, but good habits take practice.

7. Don’t micromanage. It’s easy to get carried away with these tips. However, the more freedom you grant your team (and the more respect you show them!), the better performance improvement results you’ll witness.

 

What fundamental strategies do you employ in your office?